Thursday, 5 February 2009

Noise Pollution and how to Deal with Noise

As a student, you often find yourself living with people that are very tolerant of background noise and late nights. Sometimes it takes a while to realise that 11PM is actually quite late for most people in the real world and that maybe that isn’t the best time to be doing anything too noisy. I know this, you know this, everyone knows this, but just occasionally we all forget. I was reminded a couple of days ago after butchering a plastic drum kit a little bit later than would be considered civilized.

We are very lucky with our flat in that it is incredibly sound proof. Only certain sounds carry, such as an incessant slightly non-rhythmic tapping. I know that we have only really ever heard the occasional over enthusiastic drum and bass track from downstairs, a clarinet, a dog barking and if it’s really late and really quiet, the bathroom from upstairs. After being pulled up on my inept drumming, I panicked a little and asked around with the other neighbors and it turns out they’ve had the same experiences and no significant sound seems to travel, aside from the family that lives next to the lift and can hear it whirring and clunking away, or at least the people inside swearing in frustration when it frequently breaks down.

The last flat that I lived in was much worse. At this point I was still living a much more student-like existence and Matt and I were regularly only retiring for the evening at 4AM. In this flat, just walking around was enough to incur the wrath of our hapless Italian neighbours downstairs, and beyond midnight, I found myself having to creep around in my socks trying to make as little noise as possible. To an outsider, it must have looked like I had serious mental problems, walking around on tip toes in my own home.

This all really boils down to the adaptation thing again that I find myself talking about a lot. It’s important to remember to be considerate of those around you and you must also remember that people are essentially good, something I’ve also discussed recently, and they will be reasonable. Obviously some people will be rude about demanding you to stop making noise, but I suppose the reason for that is that they’ve probably put up with it for too long in the hope that it might stop and then driven themselves to a breaking point.

If you have too much noise, don’t be scared to mention it and don’t let yourself get angry; most of the time the individual making the noise doesn’t realise how much it will carry and will feel absolutely terrible about having caused an annoyance. The flipside of that is that if you’re making too much noise, be reasonable and apologise and remember that chances are, they won’t be too angry and will be truly relieved if you’re cooperative.

Keeping good relationships with neighbours is essential. Being a student of law, I have seen what people driven to the edge by the people around them can do and try to get away with. On a more basic level, nobody needs the level of stress that you get by having a bad relationship with a practical stranger in close proximity to your living space.

Additional Notes:

Our poor neighbours that live below us I think are quite lucky that we are cooperative. We met them when whilst emptying our bath. The water was in fact disappearing from our bath room and filling their bath in the room below, via their light fittings. Apparently they’d had problems with leaks before and the previous tenants were really dismissive of the whole thing. Despite this, I would have preferred to have met them on slightly better terms.

I think noise is the one thing I get really and truly hung up about. I’m terrified of making too much noise and disrupting people and often get called on it because although I don’t have a loud voice, it is a clear voice that carries further than I imagine. This is great for presentations, or taking a position of command, but is not so great for trying to talk behind somebody’s back. People always used to tell me that I was so nice because I never seemed to say anything bad about anyone. The truth of this was more that I didn’t want to say anything bad about anyone in case they were stood within earshot, which for me, is probably anywhere within a five mile radius.

Weirdly enough, Kris has also heard someone sneezing behind their wall. This made her realise that there is probably a child sleeping inches away from where they sleep. Either that, or we have mice with dust allergies living in the walls.

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